Elton David Coward

September 7, 1916 - January 12, 1994
Role: Foreman
Nicknames: Rusty

E. D. "Rusty" Coward was a member of a pioneering Refugio County, Texas family, the Plummers. He was born on the O’Connor Melon Creek Ranch during a severe drought. Nettie Dunman, one of the old slaves, was the midwife. His family moved to town when he was seven years old, but his father, Ed Coward, died a few years later. Both his father and uncle, Jim Coward, were ranch foremen at the O'Connor Melon Creek Ranch. After high school graduation Rusty worked many different jobs; oil fields, drugstores, baker’s shops, and filling stations, but always ended up back at the ranch. He started working on the Melon Creek Ranch when he was twenty-one years old, operating one of the first bulldozers. He stayed at the Melon for over fifty years. Having come from a long line of ranching people, Rusty was an invaluable source of information on cowhands and their ways. He was a wealth of information on how to work a ranch crew. He greatly respected his men and would often laugh heartily at their attempts to outwit him—one of the great games cowhands played with foremen.

Introduction to Rusty Coward

Louise S. O'Connor
Voice of Rusty Coward
Rusty Coward – The Mexican Watering Hole was the best place. We all had Kangaroo Court down there because that's where we always stayed in camp at Mexican Water Hole. Sitting around a fire and tell lies. Yeah, we'd always "try" somebody for something. If a guy got thrown and didn't tell you about it, we try him and we'd have a judge and lawyers and plead the cases. Of course, they was always found guilty. No way to get out of it. You were Kangarooed; you was guilty. You might as well give up. You'd have to run around the camp house in his drawers or without any clothes on or something like that.


“It didn’t matter to me what color a cowhand was as long as he was good at his work.”

Cryin' For Daylight: Ranching Culture in the Texas Coastal Bend

“Lookin’ for trouble, that’s a foreman's job.”

Cryin' For Daylight: Ranching Culture in the Texas Coastal Bend